It was difficult to pinpoint a single Week 5 matchup as our game of the week. However, we do see potentially dangerous opponents for two teams in the BES Top-5. Here we examine this pair of games a bit closer as any major upsets could cause dramatic shifts in our rankings .
SEAHAWKS (No. 18) @ BENGALS (No. 5)
Overview: On paper this looks like a cakewalk for the Bengals with quarterback Andy Dalton having his best statistical season and being armed with an explosive arsenal of offensive weaponry. Not to mention the Bengals are at home.
However, the Seahawks can not be dismissed. The two-time defending NFC Champions have a history of resilience and resolve in the face of adversity, particularly when they seem outmatched on the road.
KEY MATCHUP: Dalton vs Seahawks Defense
Dalton has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 1,187 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception. At his disposal on the ground are halfbacks Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill who have combined for 460 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Through the air, Dalton deploys standout receiver A.J. Green (25 receptions, 417 yards, three touchdowns) and breakout tight tend Tyler Eifert (16 receptions, 222 yards, three touchdowns). With the help of this volatile quartet, Dalton has guided the Bengals to a No. 3 ranking in BES Offense.
Clearly, there is plenty for the Seahawks defense and its secondary to be concerned with when trying to contain the Bengals offense. The Seahawks are notoriously physical and could have success setting the tone early.
But as the game wears on, they could find themselves fatigued, burdened by a Seahawks offense unable to consistently stay on the field without chain-moving halfback Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) ruled out for a second consecutive week.
X-FACTOR: Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor
Since the return of strong safety Kam Chancellor in Week 3, the Seahawks have allowed an average of five points per game. However, those two contests were against the Lions (0-4) and Bears (1-3) who rank 31st and 32nd respectively in BES Overall.
The Bengals (No. 5) are the second, BES Top-10 team the Seahawks have faced. They lost 27-17 to the Packers (No. 4) at Lambeau Field in Week 2. Who knows what impact Chancellor might have made in that game but we will see how much of a factor he is against the Bengals.
RAMS (No. 14) @ PACKERS (No. 4)
OVERVIEW: For the third time in five weeks, the Packers find themselves playing at home in the comfortable confines of Lambeau Field. It’s an unquestionably formidable place to play for opposing teams as they encounter not only a historic stadium packed with ravenous fans but a daunting 11-game winning streak that dates back to the 2014 season.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on fire, having completed 72.5 percent of his throws for 995 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He guides an offense ranked No. 2 in the BES and averaging 32.5 points per game at home this season.
Needless to say, the Rams have their work cut out for them but possess a few dogs in this fight that might aid their effort to upset the Packers.
KEY MATCHUP: Packers Offensive Line vs Rams Defensive Line
Without question the best strategy for any team facing Aaron Rodgers is to keep him and the Packers offense off the field by controlling the clock.
Unfortunately, that is an area of weakness for the Rams as they enter this game with a Ball Control score of 2.12. Therefore, if they hope to cause any problems for Rodgers they’ll need to rely on their pass rush where they boast a Pass Pressure score of 2.84.
The Rams field an impressive front four composed of defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long along with defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald. The group has combined for 8.5 sacks on the year, 50 percent of the team total 17 which coincidentally ties the Packers for second most in the league.
Donald, in particular, is a uniquely disruptive force on the inside. His unmatched combination of explosive quickness and closing speed is unlike anything the Packers offensive line has dealt with this season.
X-FACTOR: Rams HB Todd Gurley
The Rams ability to control the clock could greatly improve if rookie halfback Todd Gurley rides the momentum generated by his 19-carry, 146-yard effort in Week 4 where he helped seal a 24-22 road win over the Cardinals (No. 7).
At 6-foot-1, 227 pounds with power, elusiveness and breakaway speed, Gurley is a dynamic runner who poses a major problem for the Packers’ 23rd-ranked run defense. If he has success, it will take pressure off of Rams quarterback Nick Foles and, more importantly, help keep Rodgers on the sideline.